LOS ANGELES – Seven players skated at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, CA, on Tuesday afternoon, including Dustin Tokarski, Lars Eller, Brandon Prust, Francis Bouillon, Ryan White, Michael Bournival and George Parros. The rest of the team stayed at the hotel to take part in an off-ice workout capped off by an informal game of basketball.
Carey Price was also on the ice for the first time since leaving practice with a lower body injury upon his return from the Olympics. Price admitted he aggravated a lingering injury during the second practice of the Olympic tournament, but was able to play through it. The three-time All-Star worked with Habs goaltending coach Stephane Waite for about 20 minutes on Tuesday afternoon on movement exercises and puck handling after undergoing treatment with the team’s medical staff, but is still considered day-to-day to get back into game action.
“It felt good to get on the ice. It’s coming down to the important part of the year and I want to go into this stretch 100%,” explained Price, who has missed the team`s last four games after returning from Sochi with a gold medal. “I’m feeling good and progressing. The last 20 games of the year are a real mental grind and I want to make sure I’m prepared for the rest of the year and the playoffs. We still have a lot of hockey left this year and I want to make sure I’m good to go. It’s manageable but I want it to be 100% before we go into the important stages of the year.”
Also slowly working his way back into the lineup, Brandon Prust is inching closer to making his return from an upper-body injury, but confirmed he is unlikely to play against Anaheim or Phoenix. While he works on his own recovery, he was happy to see his fellow clinic client back on the ice in full gear.
“I think everybody was kind of watching [Carey] come out and getting excited. I wanted to go give him a hug,” admitted Prust with a laugh after seeing Price step on the ice midway through Tuesday’s skate. “It’s good. We want him to take it slow and do the right things to make sure he’s 100% when he comes back to be ready for a long run. In the meantime, Peter [Budaj] has been doing a great job and we’re really fortunate to have him.”
After playing with Mike Weaver in Los Angeles and Florida earlier in his career, George Parros will once again be sharing an NHL dressing room with the veteran blue-liner. While the team awaits Weaver’s arrival in Anaheim, Parros was able to offer up a scouting report on what fans can expect from the newest Hab.
“He’s a great character guy. He’s short in stature but he packs a big punch,” shared Parros, who spent two seasons with Weaver as a King and Panther. “He can hit guys, he’s got a good pop out there, he’s solid defensively, he’s good on the PK, he blocks a lot of shots and I think you’re going to like him. I know we’re going to like him.”
With less than 24 hours before the NHL trade deadline, Michel Therrien was also a fan of GM Marc Bergevin’s first move of week. While he didn’t confirm whether or not Weaver would be in the lineup against the NHL’s top-ranked team on Wednesday, the Canadiens’ coach is looking forward to seeing what his newest blue-liner will bring to the mix.
“He excels on the penalty kill. He’s not a big guy but he’s physical and he competes. There are a lot of people in the organization who know him and they know he’s the kind of player we need,” explained Therrien, who will also confirm Wednesday’s starting goaltender after the morning skate in Anaheim. “The important thing is that today, Marc made our team better. We wanted a guy who could bring depth to the lineup. He’s a veteran, he’s a competitor and he’s a character guy. Depth on defense is so important because you never know what will happen. It’s a great pick up for us.”
Following their media availability, the team boarded a bus bound for Anaheim and will face the league-leading Ducks at 10:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday night.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.